How to Find Freelance Writers (Without Wasting Time or Money)
“Finding a quality freelance writer is like spotting a needle in a haystack. We’ve found them, but it’s tough.”
This seems to the most common experience for anyone trying to figure out how to find freelance writers. And it has to be a frustrating one if you expected to save time and money by outsourcing content creation.
It’s not a problem of availability.
There are millions of freelance writers out there. A quick search will even give you all kinds of lists with 5, 10, 20+ websites where you can find them.
But you don’t want to just know how to find freelance writers—you want to find the right freelance writer. The one who will produce high quality content at a price that works for you.
That shouldn’t feel hopeless. The way your source content writers is key to hiring freelance writers without wasting time or money.
The Fatal Flaw in Finding Freelance Writers
The first step to finding a freelance writer that you’ll love working with? Avoiding one fatal flaw.
If anyone ever promises you high-quality, long-form blog posts for $40, just run. Delete the email, bounce from the website, hang up the phone. Whatever you need to do, don’t fall into the trap.
It happens to people all the time. You decide to start investing in content to grow your brand. But you have no idea how content pricing works.
You do some searching and find one of the most popular platforms for hiring freelance writers. And at just $40 for a long-form blog post, how can you say no?
The problem is that the final product will never live up to expectations.
At best, you’ll get well-structured sentences that offer the highest-level overview of your topic. At worst? You could get an entirely incoherent draft that makes false claims, shows no topical authority, and would actively hurt your brand reputation if you hit publish.
You aren’t publishing content just for the sake of filling out your website. It’s supposed to build organic search traffic, generate leads, and convince people to buy your products and services. Don’t let the allure of ultra-low prices overshadow those goals. You might save money now—but you’ll waste time and money later when you have to rewrite everything (or worse, have to find yet another freelancer to send the assignment to).
Budget constraints are real. I get it.
However, there’s a massive difference between actively seeking out the lowest possible price and taking the time to find a writer who fits your (realistic) budget.
Just making this small mindset shift will drastically improve your search for content writers. Then, you can start drilling down into the specifics of finding exactly who you need.
Keys to Finding a Freelance Writer Efficiently
Most marketers and business owners are at a disadvantage when trying to source content writers.
It’s just not something most people have a ton of experience doing. Maybe you’ve worked with a freelancer here and there over your career. But you probably haven’t done it at the kind of scale that would make you an expert.
The exception? Managing editors.
One of the reasons journalists port over to content marketing so well is that they’re expert editors.
They know how to get the most out of a single piece of content. And if they’ve held a managing editor role in the past, they probably have an existing network of freelance writers they love working with. At the very least, they know where to find them without dealing with the same frustrations you do.
There’s no secret formula to closing that gap. Managing editors have spent years growing their professional relationships with other writers.
But you don’t have that kind of time. You need a freelance writer right now (or at least very soon).
How do you find the same success? There are a few ways to make sure you’re only finding the best freelancers for your needs.
Look Beyond the Writing Samples
Writing samples are the most important tool at your disposal when evaluating freelancers. They give you the reassurance that you’re choosing a professional writer who can handle your specific content needs.
Except we hear the same thing all the time:
“Everyone looks good until you get a draft.”
Content mills have made people skeptical when searching for freelancers. Suddenly, you aren’t sure if you can trust the writing samples on someone’s profile.
This problem often goes hand in hand with the fatal flaw of sourcing writers. When you’re sifting through the cheapest possible options, you’re bound to run into a few misleading samples.
But it can happen regardless of budget.
Every piece of content is its own project. The assignment that led to that writing sample you liked probably wasn’t exactly the same as the one you’re trying to get done.
Don’t stop researching just because you liked a few writing samples. Those give you an idea of the freelancer’s skill ceiling, but there’s more to review before diving into that first assignment.
Use the Portfolio as Context
A freelance writing portfolio is a marketing tool like any other. It’s meant to highlight past work to get you (the client) to buy into their skills.
If all you’re doing is checking out a few writing samples before choosing a writer, you’re missing out on so much valuable context.
When you give as much weight to the portfolio as you do the samples, you can learn from:
- The Bio: How do writers talk about themselves? Whatever style they write in for their bio will likely match what they deliver for your assignment. Sure, great writers can adapt to different voices. But starting with someone closer to the tone you expect will make it easier to succeed with that first assignment.
- Industries and Topics: One reason the cheapest content writing services often fall short is that the writers aren’t specialized. Even if they can write well, they won’t know the ins and outs of your specific industry. Don’t just look for “tech” writers if you’re a cybersecurity company focused on endpoint protection. Browse the portfolio to find specific mentions of the topics you want to cover.
- Social Media Profiles: There’s a wide range of freelance writers you could work with. Some will freelance as a side job while others will eat, sleep, and breathe client work. Both can work. But if you want to learn more about the context, social media profiles can help. Who do your potential writers follow? What do they like to talk about? Do they put out the kind of content you’d like to publish? Any additional context can help your search.
Trust Great Recommendations
The last key element for finding great freelance writers is social proof. You want to see recommendations from other marketers to verify that the freelancer can get the job done.
This is self-explanatory. But much like the writing samples, you don’t want to put all of your trust in the recommendations.
When you see a stellar review for a freelance writer, take the time to verify its value. Look up the person who wrote it on LinkedIn. What position do they hold? Does it seem like you can trust their opinion?
You don’t need to go down a rabbit hole of LinkedIn research. However, if your goal is to find freelance writers as efficiently as possible, you’ll want to make sure you can trust recommendations before starting that first assignment.
Eliminate the Vetting Process to Find Freelance Writers
The biggest thing standing between you and finding the right freelancer for your content needs is a vetting process.
Unless you’re a managing editor with experience sourcing and vetting writers, it’s a daunting task.
That’s why content mills become such attractive options. A massive pool of writers readily available to you? Great. Low prices? Even better.
But you know you’ll just end up disappointed in the end.
The next time you’re trying to figure out how to find freelance writers, make sure the writers are pre-vetted for you. And better yet, have someone help you pinpoint the exact community members who will best fit your needs.
These are the two hallmarks of our content writing services. Reach out today and let us help you build your writing team—without wasting time and money on the wrong freelancers.